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Band versus DJ: What’s right for your wedding?

“Should get a band or a DJ for my wedding?” may be one of the most common wedding planning questions, but it doesn’t always come with a clear-cut answer. (And the answer can be different for every couple!)

Some couples prefer the live performance of a favorite dance band while others love the energy of a professional wedding DJ. Either way, you should always make sure to do your due diligence when researching both options; there are a lot of amateur DJs and bands that can don’t deliver what they promise (a personalized play list that keeps guests on the dance floor) OR can leave couples stuck without wedding reception entertainment in case of an emergency.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of wedding DJ questions that weeds out the amateurs and warning signs to watch for that indicate your wedding DJ is way less than professional. However, if you’re still grappling with the choice between a band a DJ, this table breaks down the question quickly and easily.

Wedding band versus DJ

  DJ Band
Keeps guests
on the dance
floor
Yes-if you choose an experienced pro! Yes-if you choose experienced musicians!
Cost Yes-Typically lower than a band No-Typically highest cost wedding entertainment
Emcee for
reception
Yes-Can make announcements and add personal touch Yes-Can make announcements and add personal touch
Play list Endless Limited
State-of-the-art equipment Yes-ask to see the DJ’s equipment (and be concerned if they can’t or won’t show it to you) Yes-usually
Dinner music Yes-ask to make sure it is included, along with these other wedding DJ questions No-not usually but some groups can customize their act so a few musicians can provide soft dinner music and a full dance band later
Lighting Yes-high-quality wedding DJs offer this (usually as part of a package) Sometimes
Back-up plan (in case of illness or emergency) Yes-ask DJs before hiring to make sure they have back-up DJs and equipment (amateurs don’t) Yes-ask bands before hiring because some won’t

Tips for choosing the best wedding entertainer

  • Always research DJs and bands before hiring (i.e. on social media, YouTube, The Knot, Wedding Wire, etc.)
  • Don’t hire a wedding DJ or band without asking important questions (i.e. amount of time included in contract, overtime fees, amount of musicians included in band, etc.)
  • Be careful about hiring entertainers that raise any of these red flags.
  • If you want a particular musician or DJ, make sure you request that individual right away. Some bands or businesses have a list of musicians and pros that alternate performances.
  • Take note of reviews, but be extremely cautious about hiring a friend of a friend that performs at weddings as a side job.
wedding dance

How to Choose the Best Songs to Play at a Wedding

The energy of a packed dance floor can feel electric—especially when the best songs are played at a wedding. While creating that energy might seem as easy as putting together a list of your favorite songs, the right wedding playlist is crafted from using a combination of do’s and don’ts that get guests out on the floor.

Don’t make your guests blush (with your music choice).

Even if you are hosting an adults-only wedding reception, be aware that you may still have to “PG-down” your wedding playlist. This doesn’t mean you have to play kiddy songs, but it does mean that may have to take those risqué songs off the wedding playlist. The good news is that you don’t have to cross those songs permanently off your playlist. Save them for your post-reception party with your close friends!

Do include your guests’ favorites.

It’s okay to hate the chicken dance or ban a song or two that you absolutely can’t stand. When compiling a do not play list, make sure you keep it short. You don’t want your guests to wander away because they are not playing any songs they like! (Put the bar or a water cooler near the dance floor too, so guests don’t need to go too far to stay hydrated.)

Don’t leave your reception leaderless.

As tempting as it might be to just let wedding songs play, the best wedding dances are full of energy—usually from the DJ or band. In addition to entertaining guests and uping the fun factor, a DJ or band leader can make announcements (like for your first dance and introducing your bridal party!) and steer guests to key moments.

Do take requests.

Your wedding reception is all about entertaining your guests. Taking requests is a great way to do so! Obviously, there is a risk in taking live requests. You may have to take part in the YMCA (or watch everyone else do so!) If you want to make sure those annoying songs aren’t played, you can take requests on your wedding website or via your reply cards. This approach gives you the chance to veto any wedding songs that you truly hate.

Don’t forget to connect your vendors.

If you want to make sure that everything goes smoothly and all those important moments are recorded, connect your venue staff contact with your DJ and your DJ with your photographer and…so on and so on. (A really good DJ already knows to connect with them. Make sure you ask the DJ about this with this list of wedding DJ questions.) This important step ensures that your DJ can set up on time and your photographer (and videographer) is in the right place to get the best shots at the right time.

Do hire a really, really good DJ.

An experienced wedding DJ is experienced for a reason. Take advantage of it! If you want to host a memorable wedding reception, use this list of questions to interview wedding wedding Djs and hiring tips to choose the best pro for your wedding day. You and your guests are sure to enjoy the result (and the memories!)

collage of pictures from epic wedding dance

Quick Guide to Chicago Wedding DJ Prices

When you’re planning a wedding, you don’t have a lot of time—-especially not for contacting every wedding DJ in Chicago! That’s why we’ve put together some of favorite wedding reception planning tips that can help you make sense of those wedding DJ prices and quotes, so you and your guests enjoy a memorable night of dancing and fun.


bride and groom at small wedding reception

7 Incredibly Common Wedding First Dance Mistakes to Avoid

Your wedding first dance is supposed to be special, but these mistakes can make it anything but—for you and your guests. Nobody wants to plan a boring first dance, but you don’t want your first dance to be memorable for all the wrong reasons either. That’s why we’ve put together a list of wedding first dance mistakes that many couples have made (and many guests noticed!)

Not conferring with the DJ

You hired your DJ for a reason (hopefully because they are experienced and incredibly good at what they do). Use them! Don’t hesitate to ask your wedding DJ for ideas for first dance songs, surprises, and ways to take it to the next level. A good experienced DJ has been to many weddings and has seen many wedding first dances. For a custom wedding first dance, listen to their ideas and personalize them into a special first dance.  

Choosing an awkward first dance song

Your wedding first dance should be remembered as a special moment that totally fit you as a couple, not as that “creepy first dance.” The internet is full of stories of couples that chose creepy first dance songs and awkward moments. One groom even used the same first dance song at both his weddings (which the guests did notice!) The lesson is to choose the right wedding first dance song. If you need some help, check out these tips for choosing the right (not creepy) first dance song.

Not researching the lyrics

Before you commit to any first dance song, make sure you look up the lyrics online. You’d be surprised to see how many songs sound great but have a different meaning once you read through the lyrics.

Going a little too over-the-top

The best first dances are “totally you” or, on the flip side, a huge surprise. It’s okay to think out-of-the-box or try to make your first dance fun. Just make sure you’re not trying too hard to be something you’re not.

Not practicing

A choreographed first dance is an all-or-none effort. If you both want to pull off a dance routine, make sure you and your partner practice (A LOT) before your wedding day.

Dancing FOREVER

If you want to empty your dance floor (and your wedding reception), choose a wedding first dance song that’s just the right length. The optimal length for songs are between two and two half minutes. Really long first dance songs, usually more than three or four minutes, bore guests and a good way to clear your wedding venue quickly.

Choosing the wrong shoes for the first dance

The first dance should be all about enjoying the moment. Don’t let painful shoes ruin it. Be selective when you choose your shoes and use them when you practice so you can break them in.

wedding guests in photo booth with silly hats and funny faces

Renting a Wedding Photo Booth in Chicago? Ask these Questions

Googling “wedding photo booth rental near me” is only the start of renting a photo booth for your big day. A wedding photo booth rental should be the source of fun candid shots (including those crazy poses and photo booth props) and jokes for years to come. It shouldn’t turn into a headache on your special night, but it can (really easily!) if the photo booth breaks down or the rental company is difficult to work with.

That’s why it’s important to ask a few questions before renting a photo booth. A short interview with the rental company ensures that you know what you’re renting, what is included with the rental, and the exact cost of the booth.

Do I get the photos from the photo booth? What kind of paper and printer is used?

Photo booth photos are much more fun when they are enjoyed by everyone! Ask your photo booth rental company if guests and the couple get photos from the booth (instead of just guests).

Avoid photo booths with cheap desktop printers and low-quality paper. You won’t be able to appreciate those crazy shots on flimsy paper—and you definitely won’t be able to if a cheap printer breaks down.

How big is the wedding photo booth?

If you want to take the “go big home or go home” approach to a photo booth, ask about the size of the booth. Some of the best shots are group shots! Larger photo booths can accommodate up to 10 guests, but choosing the size is up to you. Contact a photo booth rental company with a variety of sizes and the strong structure so your friends can take the ultimate group photo.

Does the rental include photo booth props? Can I customize the backdrop?

Photo booth props are almost as important as the people in the shots. (Use these ideas for fun photo booth props.) Find out right away if the photo booth rental includes props or start shopping for props that fit with your theme. The right props and backdrop can make or break wedding day photos. Think masquerade masks for a formal wedding, crowns for a fairy tale wedding reception, and feather boas for a theatrical night.

What if the wedding photo booth breaks down?

Nobody wants to think about a broken-down photo booth, but the truth is that it does happen. Cheap photo booth rentals might seem appealing, but don’t always come with support if the equipment fails. Find out before you rent whether there is a back-up booth and support available so you can still get great shots from a wedding booth—even if it’s not the original piece of equipment.

How much does the photo booth cost? How long is included in the rental? Is there a discount for a package rental?

When contacting the photo booth rental company, don’t stop at asking about the rental rate. Ask about all the fine print that comes with a rental, such as the length of time included in the rate and if there are any other fees. If you need other entertainment for your wedding, ask if the company offers other wedding entertainment and if there are discounts for package rentals.

5 BIG Tips for a GREAT Wedding Photo Booth

wedding guests in photo booth with silly hats and funny facesPics of mustaches, feather boas, and well…we can’t talk about some of the photo booth pics we’ve seen.  All this could be part of your wedding day if you include a photo booth into your plans for wedding entertainment—but not just any photo booth propped into a corner.  Follow these tips for some guaranteed funny pictures from your wedding photo booth.

Think about location.

When you are shopping for wedding venues, or after you’ve chosen the site for your big day, think about where is the best location for your photo booth.  Your venue manager may have suggestions.  Try to choose a spot where your guests can easily get to, such as next to the dance floor or by the bar (you might get some really, really funny pics there).  If you are worried about traffic to the photo booth, make a special sign that directs your guests to your photo booth location, such as on a chalkboard or in flashing lights.

Be wary of a DIY photo booth

With all the wedding bills piling up, we can see how tempting it would be to follow the trend and build your own photo booth.  However, don’t jump onto this bandwagon until you’ve considered all the facts:

  1. Price. Is the cost of your DIY photo booth more than the cost of a rental? Contact a photo booth rental company to find out (and ask about package deals to try and save money)
  2. Time. With all that’s going on, do you have time to add one more item to your to-do list? Trust us, the days right before you wedding can be hectic!
  3. Risk. What if something goes wrong with your equipment? Is that cheap camera you picked up really going to come through when you need it?

Choose a reputable photo booth rental company

Don’t rent a photo booth without researching photo booth rental companies.  Check out their social media page reviews, and ask for references when you request information.

When you are contacting photo booth companies, ask for information about the photo booth you are interested in (there is more than one type), dependability of the equipment, and any extras included in the photo booth rental (i.e. An Enchanted Evening provides a scrap book and video messaging).

Be prepared for the “just in case.”

Ask your photo booth rental company if they have a back-up plan just in case something goes wrong with the equipment at your event.  Break downs do happen, and that’s why it’s important to use a photo booth rental company with back-up equipment for your wedding day.

Have fun with props. 

Once you’ve got your photo booth confirmed for your big day, customize your photo booth props (we’ve listed ideas for photo booth props here) with your date or name.  Have fun with it, and your guests’ll do the same!

How To Choose A DJ

Since we perform at hundreds of weddings each year we speak to a lot of people each and every day who are searching for the right entertainment for their wedding. Most of our potential customers have never hired a DJ before and don’t know where to start. Unfortunately with this lack of experience the main question we typically get is “how much do you charge?” I understand why people ask this question as a wedding is a major investment (and you do have to set a budget for any type of event) but the one thing I advise all couples on is although cost is an important factor, it should not be the determining factor in choosing a DJ, as a DJ can either make or break a reception.

Although budgets will vary, the average cost of a wedding in Chicago is over $20,000. When you look at the big picture a Disc Jockey usually only accounts for about 5% of your wedding budget (which is small compared to how important the entertainment is for a wedding reception). In addition the DJ is one of your less expensive wedding vendors (yes it is a nice look to spend $1500+ on chiavari chairs but it won’t have any impact on the success of your reception). Most people would agree two things most guests remember about a wedding is Did we have fun? and Did we have a good meal? Give it 5 years and most guests won’t even remember what they ate at your reception but they WILL remember if they had a good time or not. So here are some facts to think about when choosing one of the most important vendors for your wedding reception.

I_0232Many DJ’s charge less because they do not have the same level of experience to offer, which in many cases could result in disastrous outcomes. Others use inexpensive equipment and/or charge extra for so-called “options” that are really needed for a wedding reception. While others quote a low price for 4-5 hours, and at the end when additional needed time is added, the cost goes way up. Keep in mind most DJ’s in the market are smaller, part time companies and although their packages might appear similar, the service itself is not the same. Most do not carry the same quality of equipment (and although they say they have a digital system, using their Laptop they also use for School is not professional). In addition most do not carry the essential back up equipment, and although it is rarely needed, if your wedding is the exception it is good to know your wedding will not be ruined because of this. The same is true with a back up DJ. Most less expensive DJ companies do not have a member from their staff who is a paid, on site, back up DJ (outside of possibly having an arrangement with another DJ company that can hopefully help them out in a jam) but if the DJ you hire is sick or there is a last minute emergency and they do not have a solid back up plan you could be out of luck (and believe me this happens much more than one might think in the wedding industry). These are just some things to keep an eye out for in choosing a DJ. It is always important to go with a reputable, full time wedding business to handle such an important event.

An Enchanted Evening has been in business for almost 20 years and we have performed at over 4000 events since our beginning. Our firm specializes in wedding receptions, with over 90% of our events each year being weddings. Our package is an all inclusive package that includes unlimited time for the reception (rate not based on an hourly rate nor is it limited to a number of hours) and also includes features many companies treat as optional such as, but not limited to, a professional digital sound system, upgraded lighting, wireless microphone system, on site back up equipment, back up DJ and one DJ/Emcee who will also act as master of ceremony and your personal wedding coordinator. YYou can find DJ’s pricing as low as $500 ranging up to $5000 but the average cost of a Full Time, reputable DJ company is typically $1000.00 to $1500.00 (with our company being at the low end of the average). And obviously everyone wants to save money, but when looking at the full picture, when you’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a wedding, when all said and done paying a couple hundred dollars more for a professional, full time quality DJ only costs you 1% more overall, but the quality of service received will far outweigh the additional money spent as a DJ can make or break a wedding reception.